Alienware’s sophomore showing in Best and Worst Brands sees it drop from fourth place into an 8th place tie. We find the brand in the midst of a transition, saying goodbye to its Epic design in favor of the new Legend design that’s an evolved take on the company’s intergalactic theme. The resulting laptops are incredibly sleek and even more powerful than the previous generation. However, some missteps during Tech Support Showdown and a rather narrow catalog proved to be the brand’s downfall. Still, we expect great things from Alienware going into 2021 and think that a comeback is imminent.
Alienware’s Key Strengths
- Evolved, elegant design: Alienware has retired the aggressive-looking Epic design in favor of the more refined Legend design that boasts pearlescent paints, rounded corner and a more restrained light show.
- Powerful specs: Just because they’re prettier, it doesn’t mean Alienware’s laptops are weaker. On the contrary, the systems are packed with the latest specs including 10th Gen Intel processors and Nvidia’s new Super GPUs.
- Plenty of customization: You want OLED panels, dual SSDs and overclockable CPUs and GPUs? Alienware’s got all of that and more if you have the patience to configure it.
Alienware’s Main Weaknesses
- Expensive options: Although Alienware does offer a host of configurations, none of them go below $1,000, which is a sweet spot for many gamers on a budget.
Top-Rated Alienware Laptops
This Dell-owned gaming brand has been pushing the envelope for years and its latest offerings are no different. While we’ve only reviewed three Alienware laptops since our last report, all of them scored a four-star rating and earned an Editor’s Choice award.
Part of what makes Alienware laptops stand out from the crowded field is the Legend design aesthetic that blends industrial materials with space-age elements. Combined with RGB lighting, it’s a beautiful look that you’ll find across Alienware’s 2020 products, like the Alienware m17 R3. You can also expect top-notch performance out of an Alienware laptop thanks to their power components.
None of this comes cheap, so you’ll want to look elsewhere if you’re on a budget.
This year finds Alienware going through a transition. It’s the last hurrah for the company’s Epic design and it’s going out in grand fashion with the Alienware m15 OLED (2019). Sporting its telltale intergalactic light show, this iteration of the m15 was the lightest at the time of debut, at 4.8 pounds. We’ll miss its Epic Gray anodized aluminum lid and black magnesium undercarriage.
And while we say our wistful goodbyes to the Epic design, we also tender a hearty hello to the company’s Legend design. Restricting the light to key spots on the laptop and giving the laptop an elegant, ethereal design, the Alienware m17 R2 and m17 R3 are an impressive evolution to the brand’s out-of-this-world appearance.
Plus, both laptops are some of the lightest 17-inch laptops in Alienware’s lineup at 6.6 and 5.7 pounds. Featuring gently rounded corners, delicate embossing and, of course, plenty of RGB lighting, the laptops look like ambassadors to an exciting new era of gaming.
Support and Warranty (15/20)
Alienware did quite well in their web service, providing accurate responses with kind, courteous and patient service agents. However, some of these interactions took quite long, with our Twitter back and forth resulting in a 37-minute conversation. On the other hand, Alienware’s phone service was a bit more of a mixed bag, with some operators being rude, dismissive and taking too long to figure out the issue.
Many Alienware laptops come with a standard warranty including one-year hardware service, an in-home service after a remote diagnosis and free two-way shipping. For accidental damages, you’ll have to pay $59.99 or more. For Premium Support, Dell SupportAssist will diagnose any problems and contact an Alienware rep, and that can be $279 for two years or $559 for four years. An upgraded version called Support Plus will remove viruses and optimize PC performance at $479 for two years and $889 for four.
Alienware impressed us with its innovative concepts in recent months, but its cutting-edge technologies will cost you a pretty penny.
Take the Alienware m17 R3 gaming rig, for example. This is the latest Alienware to feature a Tobii eye tracker. Where the innovation lies is in the usage. In addition to using the tech to control the in-game camera and control several productivity features, Twitch streamers can use the technologut to give viewers insight into what they’re looking at via eye tracking.
On top of that, we can’t forget Alienware’s new high-endurance, clear-coat paint formula. Many gamers love snacking while kicking their enemies’ butts, so the Dell subsidiary developed an innovative paint formula that is specifically designed to resist Dorito-stained fingers and other smudges. Not even French mustard, according to Alienware, can sully this special paint coating.
The m17 R3 also has a new fantastic cooling solution called Cryo-Tech, which includes an increase of the CPU’s fan blades and the thermal module’s total copper weight. When we reviewed the m17 R3, its temperature remained well below our 95-degree comfortable threshold. Want more evidence of Alienware’s innovative spirit? Check out its HyperEfficient Voltage Regulation (HEVR) technology. HEVR implements 12-phase GPU voltage regulation to the PC, which increases power delivery and efficiency to the GPU’s core.
Value and Selection (7/15)
Alienware is all about its gaming laptops and that’s pretty much it. But even for a strictly gaming laptop brand, it’s weird to see no budget gaming laptops. You may think, “well, the Dell side of the operation is taking care of the budget stuff.” True, and yet Dell also boasts premium gaming laptops, so maybe Alienware should start dipping its toes into the sub-$1,000 (winks in Alienware UFO).
You can pick up the Alienware m15 starting at $1,399, putting you safely in the gaming mid-range. But if you want the crown jewel of gaming laptops, take a look at the Alienware m17 R3 ($3,529), which packs a 2.4-GHz Intel Core i9-10980HK processor, 32GB of RAM, a pair of 1TB PCIe m.2 SSDs in RAID 0 configuration, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super GPU with 8GB of VRAM and a 3840 x 2160 panel.